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Chromosomal Rearrangements and the Origins of Animal Diversity: From Hemichordate Genome Assemblies to the Evolution of Deuterostome Chromosomal Architectures

Date: 2024-06-13

Humans are classified under the phylum Chordata, which together with phyla Echinodermata and Hemichordata belong to Deuterostomia. To trace our own evolutionary history, biologists have strived to understand the characteristics of the deuterostome ancestor. However, due to the lack of chromosomal-level genome assemblies of hemichordates, a key group in deuterostomes, the ancestral genome composition and chromosomal architecture of the deuterostome ancestor remains a mystery.

Research Fellow Yi-Hsien Su and the Marine Research Station Chief Jr-Kai Yu at the Institute of Cellular and Organismic Biology, Academia Sinica led an international research team and successfully generated the chromosomal-level genome assemblies of two hemichordate acorn worms collected from Penghu, Taiwan and California, USA. The research team deduced the chromosomal architecture of the deuterostome common ancestor and the chromosomal rearrangement events specific to chordates, echinoderms, and hemichordates.

This research establishes the genomic architecture of the deuterostome ancestor and provides new insights into the evolutionary history of deuterostomes. This study has been published on June 3, 2024 in the journal PLOS Biology. The first-author is Dr. Che-Yi Lin, and other members of the Taiwan research team include Yi-Chih Chen, Cindy Chou, Ching-Yi Lin, Tzu-Pei Fan and Chang-Tai Tsai. This study is supported by funding from Institute of Cellular and Organismic Biology and grants from Academia Sinica (AS-GC-111-L01 to Y.H.S. and J.K.Y.), and National Science and Technology Council, Taiwan (112-2326-B-001-004 to Y.H.S. and 110-2621-B-001-001-MY3 to J.K.Y.).